doi drone ban statue of liberty

No more flying drones over the Statue of Liberty, FAA says

This is an excerpt of a piece originally written for MarketWatch.com. Read the entire story here.

Looking to get an aerial video of landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty* or Hoover Dam? If you’re looking to do it with a drone, you have a week to make it happen before it becomes illegal.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday announced that it would ban drone flights up to 400 feet within the lateral boundaries of the following Department of the Interior sites:

  • Statue of Liberty National Monument, New York, NY
  • Boston National Historical Park (U.S.S. Constitution), Boston, MA
  • Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, PA
  • Folsom Dam, Folsom, CA
  • Glen Canyon Dam, Lake Powell, AZ
  • Grand Coulee Dam, Grand Coulee, WA
  • Hoover Dam, Boulder City, NV
  • Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, St. Louis, MO
  • Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone, SD
  • Shasta Dam, Shasta Lake, CA

The FAA issued the ban under its existing authority under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations “Special Security Instructions” which states that anyone operating an aircraft in what’s called an Air Defense Identification Zone — essentially an area identified out of national security interest — must comply with “special security instructions.”

Those instructions? No drones.

The restrictions go into effect on Oct. 5, though the FAA said exceptions could be made if the pilot obtains a permit from the FAA. Operators who violate the airspace restrictions may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges, according to a FAA news release.

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This is the first time the FAA has restricted drone flights over DOI landmarks. The FAA has placed similar airspace restrictions over military bases.

*Many of the areas under the FAA’s new banned drone list have actually already separately banned drone flights, including the Statue of Liberty. The National Park Service opted to ban drones in National Parks beginning in 2014 because of “noise and nuisance complaints from park visitors, park visitor safety concerns, and one documented incident in which park wildlife were harassed.”

However, that ban could only prohibit drones taking off and landing on its property and could not actually control the airspace.

The FAA’s announcement on Thursday closes off the airspace completely to drones.

“It shows a continuing government security concern with drones and may be a harbinger of future restrictions around other national parks,” said aviation attorney Loretta Alkalay.

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